Vacation Countdown: Look out, East Coast, here we come!

We took a three-generation vacation two years ago – Mom-in-law, Tall Paul and me, and his kids: a classic “family road trip” to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon. It really worked out quite well, especially when you consider the amount of time we spent in the car – and that won’t be an issue this time. We’ll spend much less time on the journey and concentrate much more of it on the destination(s). Next Monday morning, we’re getting on a plane and heading to the East Coast for a city vacation – one week in Washington DC, and the next in New York City.

We have been planning this trip for a year, no exaggeration. We’ve been thinking and talking about it for so long it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that we’re actually about to go. Last year may have been the year of the “staycation,” but not this year – not for us, anyway! We may never do a trip like this again, either…

I married into a family of California natives. 10-year-old Spencer has never been east of the Rockies, and my husband’s first time on the other side of the Mississippi River was just three years ago, when we went back to Tennessee for my son’s college graduation. I’m an Easterner born and raised – born in New York City, actually, although it’s been years since I was last there, and I’ve never truly played tourist there before. None of us have visited our nation’s capital before, but Chris – the University of Tennessee graduate – has made his home there for the last three years, and it’s more than time we saw it for ourselves.

Tall Paul and his ex-wife alternate the years in which they can take their kids for vacation, and this is the last one he’ll get before Katie graduates from high school – and depending on what she plans for that summer, two years from now, this could be our last vacation like this, period. My mother-in-law is in her 70s now, and while she’s in pretty good shape, it’s hard to say how many more times she’ll be up for traveling with us. I’m very happy that Chris will be part of this trip as well – we don’t often have all our kids together – but I realize that’s happening mainly because we’re going to the city where he lives. I’m trying to get my aunt and uncle to come into NYC and visit with us while we’re there too – they both live an hour or so away, I haven’t seen either of them for far too too long, and my aunt didn’t make it to our wedding, so she hasn’t even met Tall Paul and his family yet.

(In addition to family, I’d love to be able to meet up with some blogging friends  – if you’re in the DC or NYC areas and would be open to getting together, e-mail me at 3.rsblog AT Gmail DOT com or DM me on Twitter, and let’s see if we can figure something out!)

While vacations are great times to see family and friends, we have plans to see places and things too:

In our nation’s capital, Spencer and Tall Paul are especially excited about seeing the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, and we’re all interested in the monuments on the National Mall; I also want to go to the Museum of American History, and I would be a sad excuse for a book blogger if I didn’t try to visit the Library of Congress. When we move on to New York, we’ve got tickets to a Broadway show and the Statue of Liberty, plans to visit the Museum of Natural History and Central Park, and we’re staying in the heart of midtown Manhattan, just blocks from Rockefeller Center.

My husband has made a folder to carry all of our maps, itineraries, lists, and “places to go/things to do” information, and has hauled all the suitcases out of the downstairs closet. We’ve been doing pre-trip shopping for the last few weekends – two weeks in a much warmer, more humid climate means making sure everyone has enough comfortable clothing and plenty of underwear! And while I’m working on not pressuring myself to make this “the best vacation ever,” I do want it to be memorable for all the right reasons, especially if we don’t ever get another one like it.

A variation on this post was written for publication on the Los Angeles Moms Blog.

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